Oxford has voted to remain affiliated with the National Union of Students.
The Yes to NUS campaign, led by OUSU President Becky Howe, prevailed with 3,409 votes against 2,430. The elections had a turnout of 27.7 per cent, significantly higher than recent OUSU elections. 136 people abstained.
A spokesman from the Yes to NUS campaign told Cherwell, “We are delighted that Oxford has said, in resounding numbers, Yes to NUS. Now the real work starts. We’ve argued for a strong student movement and now our energies are going towards making that happen. Our immeasurable thanks go to the hundreds of campaigners who have made this happen”
A statement released by No Thanks NUS said, “Obviously we at No Thanks NUS are disappointed with the results of the referendum.”
“While we respect the result, we are also saddened that the campaign was marred by personal attacks from the Yes campaign and electoral malpractice from the NUS itself.”
“This was a David and Goliath contest from the start – a grassroots movement of busy and passionate students on the one hand and full-time sabbatical officers and the apparatus and budget of a national organisation on the other.”
Support for a referendum was triggered by the election of Malia Bouattia to President of the NUS, amidst accusations of anti-Semitism. Nearly 50 Jewish Societies from across the UK penned an open letter to Bouattia criticising her. OUSU voted to hold a referendum earlier this term after a motion was proposed by David Klemperer. The decision to hold a referendum passed with 67 votes against 56, with 3 abstentions.
Universities across the country have held referendums giving students the option to disaffiliate. Oxford joins the universities of Warwick, Surrey, Exeter and Cambridge which have all voted to stay with the NUS. Newcastle, Hull and Lincoln universities voted to disaffiliate.
Richard Brooks, NUS vice president said, “I’m happy to see students at the University of Oxford have voted for OUSU to remain part of their national union. We have a lot of work to do but we are already developing a new democratic structure and look forward to OUSU being part of this process.
“Concerns have been raised by Oxford students about anti-Semitism within NUS and these will not be ignored. We take these concerns seriously and we will act on them. We hope to rebuild trust with Jewish students and work closely with OUSU to address any issues.”
Isaac Virchis, President of Oxford Jewish Society, told Cherwell, “Oxford Jewish Society would like to congratulate the Yes to NUS campaign on its success, whilst expressing our obvious disappointment with the result of the referendum. The result of this referendum must not be taken as a mandate for the NUS to continue in its current state regarding anti-semitism and the welfare of Jewish students.”
“The NUS must reflect on why they have lost the support of an overwhelming majority of our society’s members. Issues such as the applause for arguments against Holocaust commemoration and the anti-semitic comments of Malia Bouattia remain unaddressed. Anti-racism is not a selective ideology where we can pick and choose which oppressions we choose to oppose. The NUS cannot claim to be an anti-racist organisation until it takes the concerns of Jewish students seriously.”
A spokesperson from CRAE commented, “We’re delighted with the result – it’s a huge win for students of colour at a time that we’re fighting the racist PREVENT agenda, rising tuition fees and illegal deportations of students. We’re thrilled that Oxford has voted unambiguously to stand with us and NUS in the fight against this racist government.”